Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
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10-05-2012, 02:01 PM
Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
I have this open challenge on another forum but I thought I would offer it here as well in case anyone here wants to pick up the gauntlet:

I'm offering to debate on the existence of the "historical Jesus". I am offering to take the side against the existence of this person. Here are the terms, just to be clear in advance:

"Historical Jesus" means:
We can, with reasonable certainty and intellectual honesty, place the label "based on a true story" upon all four of the Gospel accounts as they are found in the NT of the Bible.

"Base on a true story" means at minimum:
We can claim to know, with reasonable certainty and intellectual honesty, the following details about Jesus based upon the four Gospel accounts:
1. When Jesus was born
2. When Jesus died.
3. When was the ministry of Jesus.
4. What did Jesus teach in his ministry.

The magic, miracles and appearance of supernatural creatures in the story can be set aside for the purpose of this debate. This debate will be about dates, ministry and sayings.

My primary source will be the Bible. My opponent must be ready to defend the reliability and consistency of the Gospels as a historical record of the life of Jesus. My opponent must be ready to assume the burden of proof that the Gospel character existed *and* that we can know with any reasonable degree of certainty what he preached and when he preached.


Just to add (I'm tipping my hand to let my opponent know what he's getting into): My thesis will be that the Gospels contain too many self-contradictions as well as too many conflicts with what we know of the actual history of the time to be taken seriously. I will further demonstrate that the authors were either not eye-witnesses (Mark and Luke), were liars (Matthew) or were written too late to have been authored by an eye-witness (John). I will conclude that they should be regarded as mythology, not as historical documents, biographies or "reliable eye-witness accounts".

I will not be arguing against some sort of vague hypothetical 1st century Judean named 'Yeshua' who was a religious leader. I will not be suckered into being charged with disproving a Jesus-of-the-gaps or otherwise proving a negative.

"An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral and the advance of (humanity's) knowledge over time is a greater miracle than all the sticks turning to snakes and the parting of the waters."
-Henry Drummond, "Inherit the Wind"
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10-05-2012, 03:29 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
You have a limited audience here. I'm guessing only 1 person on the whole forum might have an interest in taking the defensive side of this particular debate. Good luck!

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
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10-05-2012, 03:41 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(10-05-2012 02:01 PM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  I have this open challenge on another forum but I thought I would offer it here as well in case anyone here wants to pick up the gauntlet:

I'm offering to debate on the existence of the "historical Jesus". I am offering to take the side against the existence of this person. Here are the terms, just to be clear in advance:

"Historical Jesus" means:
We can, with reasonable certainty and intellectual honesty, place the label "based on a true story" upon all four of the Gospel accounts as they are found in the NT of the Bible.

"Base on a true story" means at minimum:
We can claim to know, with reasonable certainty and intellectual honesty, the following details about Jesus based upon the four Gospel accounts:
1. When Jesus was born
2. When Jesus died.
3. When was the ministry of Jesus.
4. What did Jesus teach in his ministry.

The magic, miracles and appearance of supernatural creatures in the story can be set aside for the purpose of this debate. This debate will be about dates, ministry and sayings.

My primary source will be the Bible. My opponent must be ready to defend the reliability and consistency of the Gospels as a historical record of the life of Jesus. My opponent must be ready to assume the burden of proof that the Gospel character existed *and* that we can know with any reasonable degree of certainty what he preached and when he preached.


Just to add (I'm tipping my hand to let my opponent know what he's getting into): My thesis will be that the Gospels contain too many self-contradictions as well as too many conflicts with what we know of the actual history of the time to be taken seriously. I will further demonstrate that the authors were either not eye-witnesses (Mark and Luke), were liars (Matthew) or were written too late to have been authored by an eye-witness (John). I will conclude that they should be regarded as mythology, not as historical documents, biographies or "reliable eye-witness accounts".

I will not be arguing against some sort of vague hypothetical 1st century Judean named 'Yeshua' who was a religious leader. I will not be suckered into being charged with disproving a Jesus-of-the-gaps or otherwise proving a negative.
Which other forum are you on? Same name? If I was to join in in I'd be on your side.
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10-05-2012, 04:23 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
He's another drifter in from athiestforums.org Tongue

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10-05-2012, 04:53 PM (This post was last modified: 10-05-2012 04:57 PM by Starcrash.)
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
I'd be happy to take you up on that.

It appears that Jesus was a historical figure. The Gospels, despite their unreliability, are at least evidence that someone named Jesus existed. I'll grant you that there are several contradictions, and it seems undeniable that they are biased and filled with error. So are a lot of movies that are "based on a true story"... but just because practically nothing in these movies is in line with reality and are exaggerated so that they're interesting, that doesn't mean that nothing in them really happened. And in this example I brought up, what's the one thing that tends to at least be reliably accurate? The characters. That's where these stories tend to start. And if there was an original motivation for writing the gospels, it appears to be to tell a story about Jesus.

To discard the gospels entirely just because they have untruths within them is to commit the fallacy of composition. Now I'm not going to argue that this proves that your case is wrong (that's the fallacy fallacy), but just the mere fact that statements about Jesus are found surrounded in contradictions isn't good evidence that Jesus himself must also be false.

Plus there's a few contemporary references to Jesus outside the gospels. Take Tacitus. Now, he spoke of Jesus merely as the object of worship for the Christians, but he also mentioned Pontius Pilate as a real person holding a real position. If anything in the gospels was "based on a true story" it was the characters, and this is further evidence of that. Josephus not only wrote about Jesus but about John the Baptist, another famous character from the gospels.

Is this irrefutable proof? I doubt it. But I doubt you could irrefutably prove any historical figure. You have to filter what you have in writing through historical criteria of some sort, and the kinds that historians tend to use verify that --- if there's anything we know about Jesus --- Jesus existed. These other things you demand --- Jesus' birthdate, time of death, and ministry... I can't prove these and I don't think anyone can. You can't verify the first two points with the gospels even if we accepted them as fact. As to Jesus' ministry, I'd just be regurgitating Bart Ehrman's expert opinion on that, but again I don't think there's any way to prove it even given the gospels as "gospel".

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10-05-2012, 06:15 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(10-05-2012 04:53 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  But I doubt you could irrefutably prove any historical figure.
That's not exactly true.

This is Herbert Hoover.

He was a President. He's dead now. But there is video evidence of his existence. He had a birth certificate, and a death certificate.

Also this is where he is buried. We could dig him up if we had to .

I suspect the only issue we would have, wouldn't be proving his existence, but proving that the body was his without any prior DNA to compare. Dental records can be faked.

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10-05-2012, 07:47 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(10-05-2012 06:15 PM)lucradis Wrote:  
(10-05-2012 04:53 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  But I doubt you could irrefutably prove any historical figure.
That's not exactly true.

This is Herbert Hoover.

He was a President. He's dead now. But there is video evidence of his existence. He had a birth certificate, and a death certificate.

Also this is where he is buried. We could dig him up if we had to .

I suspect the only issue we would have, wouldn't be proving his existence, but proving that the body was his without any prior DNA to compare. Dental records can be faked.
Do you think the Transformers really invaded our planet and battled among a city because you saw it?

I agree that recent historical figures could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But irrefutably? I love putting it in those terms, because science backs me up on the idea that nothing is irrefutable, so I feel like I'm on solid ground when I abuse words like that.

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10-05-2012, 08:05 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
I would argue that noting in the bible can be substantiated to any degree of certainty.
In a court of law we need the chain of evidence to be unbroken or at least reasonbale?
300 years if hearsay? The bible is not going to make it into evidence.
No outside biblical evidence can be trusted either.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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10-05-2012, 08:08 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
Technically if you saw Transformers on film, you did not see them invade the earth; you saw a series of representative images of it, which could be a reflection of reality without any attempts to change it, a man made image, or a combination of the two. Big Grin

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10-05-2012, 09:12 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
Everyone knows GoBots are real and Transformers are not.

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
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